Why does art in libraries matter? Erinn Batykefer of the Library as Incubator Project (and a 2014 LJ Mover & Shaker) cites public art’s role in promoting creativity. “Visible art in the library space, whether through gallery shows, public art or performance, or hands-on workshops, is incredibly important in terms of the ‘incubator library’—a space where the right conditions for creative thought and new ideas are protected and promoted,” she tells LJ. “It serves as a visible representation of the connection among information and creativity and innovation…making the library a visible place where creativity is valued and nurtured.” She adds, “Every library, stripped to its barest mission, seeks to connect people with information. Art is information—the product of a creative process and the process itself.”
The world of academic libraries is constantly changing. Many libraries, for example, have undergone radical spatial changes in recent years, positioning themselves as campus centers for study and socializing. These shifts focus on the student’s or library patron’s experience but show little concern for how librarians’ work spaces are changing to meet the profession’s new demands. Finding minimal literature on this topic, we decided to issue a survey directly to academic librarians to delve into their roles and how their spaces affect the quality of their work.
The Vestavia Hills Library in the Forest opened in 2010 as Alabama’s first LEED Gold–certified library. The library takes its forest namesake very seriously: fewer than 25 percent of the trees on the site were disturbed in the building’s construction, and no tree more than 40 feet from the building was cut down. Of those that were removed, more than 80 percent were reincorporated into the library itself. The ceilings are made of pine; the entry hall is poplar; the service desks, fireplace exterior cladding, and doors to the community room are made of oak.
In hot climates, air conditioning is a necessity to keep libraries livable for patrons and staff, especially during the summer. Climate warming is only exacerbating that situation. Unfortunately, air conditioning in turn accelerates climate warming. Now, innovative alternative cooling systems are looking to reduce that environmental impact, and the Alachua County Library District (ACLD), Gainesville, FL, is leading by example.
Iconic. That word comes up again and again in descriptions of the soaring new San Diego Central Library. A lattice dome tops the warm wood and concrete nine-story structure, a striking presence in the city’s skyline. It is a fitting tribute to the 30 years of effort and almost unprecedented philanthropy from community members that went into creating the landscape-changing new library.
Iowa’s Cedar Rapids Public Library faced disaster in 2008: a “500-year flood” that ruined homes, businesses, and the main, downtown branch of the public library. The library was filled with eight feet of water, which damaged the building and materials beyond repair. A group with a vision saw the silver lining and seized the opportunity to plan for a new library based on three main ideas.